Skip to main content
Nenad Stojkovic via Flickr

Gar Alperovitz on how change happens over “pizza and some beer”

Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz

Distinguished Next System Fellow more

Movement Strategy & History Democratic Ownership

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz talks about how the democratic economy is coming into being during an October 2021 interview with Andrew Van Wagner, who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers for his Substack newsletter.

In the interview, Alperovitz points out that elements of an emergent democratic economy can be seen in the rise of cooperatives, community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, public banks, and other experimental forms of community ownership and control. “The challenge is to start to integrate these ideas—that have developed over the past 30 years—in order to have large-scale impact, rebuild communities, and ultimately rebuild the whole system. We publish a lot about how people’s successes at the community level lay the groundwork for a whole new system that’s very interesting and very practical and very American, but also very democratically owned.”

When asked how he would recommend people get involved in advancing this systemic change, he said:

“There’s an enormous amount going on around the country—you can look at our website and other organizations’ websites and see tons of things that people are actually doing and that you could also do in your community

“I see lots of local developmental things, and there’s informal cooperation—I don’t see it as an organized national effort yet, but I think you’ll see national organizational efforts in the future. 

“And how it really works is how the women’s movement worked in the 1960s—six friends get together and get some pizza and some beer. And you look at some websites and say: ‘What’s being done in other neighborhoods and other communities that the six of us could actually start right here?’ And you begin to figure out what you could do: “If they’re doing it there, why can’t we do it here?” And then something happens, and then it’s not abstract anymore. 

“That’s how things actually happen—Bob Moses recently died and there’s a case where a whole movement eventually came out of the fact that half a dozen SNCC people got together and said: ‘Let’s do something. ’”

Read the complete interview on Substack.

Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz

Distinguished Next System Fellow more

More related work

Default Image: Glass Facade

Can transformative change come to America?

The good news is systemic change may happen more rapidly than once seemed possible. But how the US and the world address the climate crisis will be a powerful determinant of what is possible. read more
Health innovation policy for the people

Health innovation policy for the people

Healthcare innovation policy in the United States has yielded some benefits but has also done harm, specifically when it comes o health equity. This paper identifies four such harms and offers recommendations that address the needs of marginalized communities and produces for all of us the innovations we really need. read more
Regeneration not gentrification

A “new direction”: Rediscovering community wealth building in an age of gentrification

To preserve communities in the throes of displacement, cooperative movements and new economy advocates must pivot in a new direction that blends place and the democratic economy. This “new direction” actually borrows from an idea nearly 50 years old. read more